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Book Review

This science fiction, dystopian book by Marie Lu is the first book in the " Legend" series and is published by the Penguin Group.

Legend is written for kids ages 12 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Set in the future, the U.S. has been split into two warring factions: the Republic and the Colonies. The Republic is basically the state of California, with Los Angeles being its capital, and the Colonies are the western territories, such as Nevada and Texas.

Daniel "Day" Altan Wing is the Republic's most-wanted criminal. He lives in the slums of Los Angeles. June Iparis, on the other hand, was born into an elite family in the Republic. Her parents are dead, but her older brother, Metias, looks after her. Metias is a captain in the military, and June is being groomed for a leadership position in the military. She is a prodigy who scored a perfect 1,500 on her trial, a test every teenager in the Republic is forced to take. Test scores reveal whether kids get to go on to high school and college or reside in the slums for their rest of their lives.

As the story opens, Day is secretly spying on his mother and two brothers in their house with his friend Tess, a young street girl he has taken under his wing. Only his older brother, John, knows Day is still alive. Day watches as Republic soldiers enter the house and leave more than an hour later after painting a huge red X with a vertical line through it on the front door. This signifies that someone in the house has the plague and that the house is quarantined.

Day decides he must break into Los Angeles Central Hospital to steal plague cures. He finds no cures, and during his escape attempt, Capt. Metias confronts him right before he is about to slip into the sewer system. Day suspects he is about to be shot by Metias and throws a knife at him, hitting him in the shoulder. Metias falls to the ground, and Day escapes.

The next morning, Thomas, a long-time family friend and fellow Republic soldier, tells June that Day killed Metias the previous night. Their superior, Cmdr. Jameson, asks June to track down Day.

June happily takes the assignment and goes undercover into the slums. After a few days, she stumbles across a Skiz fight. The vicious fights are a common occurrence in the slums. They are staged in the street, tournament-style, while spectators illegally bet on who will win.

June watches the crowd as Tess, who is placing bets for Day, is accidentally shoved into the ring and challenged to a fight by a woman named Kaede. Day knows Kaede, who is a Patriot, one of a group of anti-Republic rebels. June rescues the small, frail Tess from the ring but is then challenged to a fight by Kaede.

To everyone's surprise, June easily beats Kaede. Shortly thereafter, a group intent on hurting June converges on her in an alley. Day, who has been following her, rescues her. He and Tess, who is gifted with healing abilities, take in June and attempt to mend the knife wound on her hip.

After a couple days together, June and Day begin to have romantic feelings toward one another, and they kiss. June later realizes that this boy is Day. Continuing to hide her true identity and realizing that her feelings of revenge for her brother's death are stronger than her affection for Day, she returns home to turn in Day.

Soon after telling her superiors about Day, June finds evidence on her brother's computer that reveals the evil nature of the Republic and its intentions to release the plague on slum dwellers and the inhabitants of the Colonies. She also uncovers that Metias thought the Republic was going to kill him. Suspicion for Metias' death falls on Thomas, who does Cmdr. Jameson's bidding.

Soldiers are not able to locate Day, so they find and arrest his family members instead. Cmdr. Jameson knows that Day is hiding out, watching the entire scene, so she commands Thomas to shoot Day's mother in the head. Day comes out from hiding and is arrested. Thomas shoots Day's mother anyway. June witnesses the incident and is horrified. She now knows the truth about the Republic and decides to find a way to help Day escape. She only has two days until Day is sentenced to die by firing squad.

June asks Kaede if she and the Patriots would help her rescue Day, offering them a huge amount of cash for their assistance. The group reluctantly agrees, but they don't reveal how they will help. Minutes before Day is shot, June and the Patriots help Day escape, but his brother John, who was also captured, is killed. He acted as a decoy, though Day doesn't know this.

June and Day take shelter in a train car as they attempt to heal from their many injuries. The book ends as they are heading east toward the Colonies.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The elites put all their trust in the state and essentially worship the government. June prays, to seemingly anyone who will listen, on a couple different occasions. Once, she thanks every god in the world that there are no lights so Day cannot see her blush. Another time, when in a tight spot, she sends out a prayer to all the gods to listen to her pleas. On the day of Day's scheduled execution, June asks him if he has a last wish; he can either see his brother John or have a last prayer. June tells herself at one point that logic is above everything else and will save her when nothing else will. Tess has healing abilities.

Authority Roles

Day's parents are or were virtuous people. Day's father is only referred to in flashback, and his mother is present in very little of the story. Readers also learn that June's parents were decent people but killed in a car crash years earlier.

Cmdr. Jameson represents all that the Republic stands for. She initially seems to have taken June under her wing. But Cmdr. Jameson orders Thomas to shoot Day's mother in the head while Day is watching, and it can be assumed by the end of the book that she was the one who ordered Thomas to kill June's brother Metias.


A few different characters utter the curse words h--- and d--n several times.

Graphic scenes of violence are scattered throughout this action-packed story. They include fight scenes, in which characters get stabbed with knives, and crowds who are shot by military snipers. Some have limbs broken. The most graphic scene is when Thomas shoots Day's mother in the head.


Day and June passionately kiss a few times. Day in particular thinks to himself that he'd like to do more than just kiss, but the passion doesn't move beyond the kiss.

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Who are the rebels in this story?
  • Why might Day be considered the worst criminal in the Republic?
  • What are the rebels fighting against?
  • How is this rebellion doing what is right, and how are they doing what is wrong?
  • In our country, what are the legal means people can use to change the government?
  • As a Christian, when is it OK to not follow a man-made law?
  • Whose laws should be followed above man-made laws?

  • Think about world history. To what nation or time period would you compare the Republic's regime?

  • What does the government provide people?
  • Why might they put their hope in their government?
  • Who does God want His children to put their hope in?
  • Why is it important to place your hope in God instead of any government?

  • What is June told about her brother's death?

  • Why might she have believed what she was told?
  • How important is an element of trust in one's belief?
  • Why does June's trust in the Republic slowly dwindle?
  • Why is it important to verify whatever you are told, especially with important matters?
  • Why might God even tell us to test what He has said in His Word?

  • How does June sacrifice for Tess?

  • How does John sacrifice for Day?
  • Why do they each make the sacrifice?
  • What is one sacrifice that you've made for another person?
  • How did Jesus sacrifice for you?

Additional Comments/Notes

This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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